Firearms Training and My First Trip to a Gun Range in Port Charlotte, Fla.

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That's Me! At the Gun Range Firing a Handgun for the First Time. With Female Firearms Training Trainer Shirley King, Port Charlotte, Fla., April 29, 2017

That’s Me! At the Gun Range Firing a Handgun for the First Time. With Female Firearms Training Trainer Shirley King, Port Charlotte, Fla., April 29, 2017

“Don’t put your finger on the trigger. Cross your thumbs. Hold it steady. Don’t be scared. There’s nothing to fear,” were the thoughts running through my mind as I picked up a loaded handgun at Shooter’s Paradise gun range in Port Charlotte, Fla.

Handguns Used at the Gun Range During Female Firearms Training with Instructor Shirley King, Port Charlotte, Fla., Apil 29, 2017

Handguns Used at the Gun Range During Female Firearms Training with Instructor Shirley King, Port Charlotte, Fla., Apil 29, 2017

This was my first time holding and firing a loaded handgun (air guns don’t count, right?) Maybe it’s me, but holding a loaded firearm for the first time was intimidating while firing it was empowering. Intimidating because I know the capabilities a loaded weapon has – with the pull of the trigger, it can end a life. Empowering because once I knew what it feels like to pull the trigger and hit the target, I understood that I am in control.

Over my birthday weekend, one of the activities I chose to take a concealed carry handgun class. It wasn’t necessarily something I sought out but when I was driving down U.S. 41 in Port Charlotte, I saw a vehicle promoting Female Firearms Training and since it’s something I have wanted to do and haven’t done, I took this as my sign to learn.

Female Firearms Training with Instructor Shirley King, Port Charlotte, Fla., Apil 29, 2017

Shirley King Shows .22, .380 and 9 mm (bullets) During Female Firearms Training with Instructor Shirley King, Port Charlotte, Fla., April 29, 2017

Handgun Fundamentals with Female Firearms Training in Port Charlotte, Fla.
On a Saturday afternoon, I sat in class with two other women and learned the fundamentals of safely handling and firing a handgun under the direction of Shirley King. She is knowledgeable, thorough and patient. She made sure we all had hands-on experience with safely handling handguns as well as loading a magazine.

The class included an overview of Florida’s concealed carry weapons laws including how to transport your handgun in your car or flying with it. And, Shirley provided some examples of some of the garments and accessories available for women to carry and conceal.

I learned the difference between single action and double action, what to do with a misfire (firearm fails to fire) and hang fire (unexpected delay between pulling the trigger and ignition of ammunition), and how to position myself when firing. Importantly, the “biggest safety on a gun is the trigger finger,” Shirley told the class.

Shooter's Paradise/J&J One Stop Gun Shop - Female Firearms Training with Instructor Shirley King, Port Charlotte, Fla., Apil 29, 2017

Shooter’s Paradise/J&J One Stop Gun Shop – Female Firearms Training with Instructor Shirley King, Port Charlotte, Fla., April 29, 2017

Putting Knowledge to Practice at the Gun Range
After the in-class lesson was the hands-on portion of the class at Shooters Paradise gun range/J & J One Stop Gun Shop in Port Charlotte. Shirley spent time with each of us as one by one, we fired a total of 20 rounds from three handguns. Looking at my scribbled notes, the handguns we used were a Rossi Revolver, Smith & Wesson Semi-Automatic and, uh, a purple handgun. Maybe it was a Glock 19, maybe it wasn’t. Anyway, simulated ammunition was used in the classroom and I got to see what a .22, .380 and 9 mm (bullets) look like. Am I even using the right terminology for all this???

I’m happy to say, I hit the target all 20 times including the bull’s eye four times and three other targets twice each. Not bad for my first time! Guess you could say my birthday weekend was off to a “BANG!” (And yes, they have pink targets at Shooter’s Paradise, along with other colors.)

Shirley King of Female Firearms Training, Port Charlotte, Fla., Apil 29, 2017

Shirley King of Female Firearms Training, Port Charlotte, Fla., April 29, 2017

Shirley King, An A+ Firearms Instructor!
Shirley King and I had similar childhoods. The men in our lives had access to firearms yet we were not permitted to fire them because those were male-dominated activities and we are females. Growing up in Western New York, I recall being left behind when my brother was invited on fishing and hunting trips with the neighborhood boys whose father was a conservation officer. Shirley had similar experiences.

Up until a five years ago, the petite blonde with finely manicured nails had never considered owning a gun, never mind teaching firearms training. But that’s what she is doing today. It was after her husband passed away and she was living alone that she later decided to protect herself by learning to shoot a firearm and obtain her concealed carry weapons permit. Shirley’s trainer, Mario Anglero, encouraged her to become an NRA Firearms Instructor and I’m glad he did.

“Firearms handling is a perishable skill,” Shirley says, and after a few weeks of taking the class, I can understand what she means. If you’re not practicing what you learn, you will forget which is why I’m hoping to get out to the range and practice what I learned.

Shirley King of Female Firearms Training, Points to My Target at Shooters Paradise Gun Range in Charlotte, Fla., Apil 29, 2017

Shirley King of Female Firearms Training, Points to My Target at Shooters Paradise Gun Range in Charlotte, Fla., April 29, 2017

Nuts & Bolts About Female Firearms Training
If you’re in Southwest Florida, here’s some fun info for you, on Wednesdays, women shoot free at Shooters Paradise. Want to take a firearms class? Contact Shirley King. She teaches classes twice a week and offers one-on-one shooting lessons for women. Her website is www.WomanPackToo.com or (941) 769-0437.

Thank you Shirley for an excellent experience! Hope to see you soon!

Tip: Maybe you know this but when heading to the gun range, wear closed-toed shoes and a shirt that covers your, uh, “assets.” Shell casings can fly and they are HOT! I learned this in Vietnam at the gun range and during my trip to Shooter’s Paradise, a hot shell landed on my shirt and if I had not have worn a t-shirt, I know it would have ended up in my bra! Consider this your warning.

Note: This post contains an affiliate link in order to support my traveling habit, this blog and my special needs dog.

Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

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